‘I needed to enjoy myself on the pitch’: Matteo Guendouzi says gaining more playing time was only reason behind his Hertha Berlin loan move as he insists spell at Arsenal is NOT over
- Guendouzi hasn’t played for the club since clashing with Neal Maupay in June
- The Frenchman captained his country’s Under-21s side against Liechtenstein
- Arsenal also want to loan out 19-year-old William Saliba to a Championship side
Matteo Guendouzi insists his Arsenal career is not over after being frozen out by manager Mikel Arteta.
The 21-year-old left the Emirates Stadium on transfer deadline day, joining Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin on a season-long loan deal.
Having initially impressed at Arsenal following his move from Lorient in 2018, the France Under-21 international had not featured for the Gunners this season.
Matteo Guendouzi hasn’t played for Arsenal since squaring up to Brighton’s Neal Maupay
He has not kicked a ball for Arteta’s side since a post-match clash with Brighton striker Neal Maupay after Arsenal had lost to the Seagulls on June 20.
The Spaniard made Guendouzi work with a fitness trainer away from the first team for two weeks after he had shown an unwillingness to apologise for the incident at The Amex.
This was not the first time Arteta had disciplined the Frenchman.
Guendouzi was excluded from the matchday squad against Newcastle United in February due to his behaviour on a warm weather training camp in Dubai. Arsenal beat the Magpies 4-0.
The player departed for Germany in the final hours of the transfer market but, speaking after captaining France’s Under-21s to a 5-0 win over Liechtenstein on Thursday night, Guendouzi said his time at Arsenal is not at an end.
‘It is not that, I just really needed to play this year, a new challenge,’ he told reporters.
‘That was the most important thing for me. I am still young, I am only 21, so playing time was the top priority for me.
‘So Hertha Berlin, I know that I will be able to express myself in a magnificent league.
Guendouzi captained France’s Under-21s as they beat Liechtenstein 5-0 on Thursday night
‘They are a very good club with big ambitions. So, I have left to go on loan there for a year, so I will give everything I can for this club.
‘I needed playing time, I need to play, I needed to enjoy myself on the pitch and that is what I am going to do this year.’
Arsenal technical director Edu revealed earlier in the week that Guendouzi – as well as Lucas Torreira who joined Atletico Madrid on a similar loan agreement – had asked to leave over the summer.
Edu oversees the signing of players at Arsenal and played for the club between 2001 and 2005
‘The market situation was really strange,’ he told Arsenal.com.
‘It was difficult to manage well because nobody was 100 per cent comfortable to do the deals. Even loan players or to swap players was even more difficult. I think we did it quite well.
‘If you see Lucas Torreira, if you see Matteo I think for them it was really really important to move, play more games, be more comfortable and happier because both came to me and Mikel to talk about the possibility to go to have more games and play more minutes.’
Lucas Torreira also moved abroad in search of regular first-team football with Atletico Madrid
Another player who looks set to depart on loan is defender William Saliba.
The 19-year-old saw a deadline-day loan move to former club Saint-Etienne fall through but the PA news agency understands Arsenal are actively seeking a loan move to a Sky Bet Championship club.
Saliba joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne last summer for a reported £27million – but the agreement also meant he would remain with the French side for the 2019-20 campaign.
Injuries and Covid-19 disrupted William Saliba’s return to Saint-Etienne on loan last season
A number of injury problems, coupled with the cancellation of the Ligue 1 season following the coronavirus outbreak, meant Saliba’s final year with the club did not go as planned as he made just 17 appearances.
With Arteta keen for Saliba to get game time and a ‘year of transition’, a loan to the Championship – with a domestic transfer window open until October 16 – is a growing possibility.
It is understood Arsenal will take care over the choice of destination, highlighting style of play, location and potential manager he would be working under as key factors – with Norwich, Brentford and Watford reportedly among potential suitors.